Why Close Kaesong?

Does Kim Jong-un want war or is his hostility just war-mongering rhetoric? The whole world is trying to figure that out. A strategic clue that Kim Jong-un might not want a war may be given by the closure of the Kaesong plant, the industrial plant where South and North Koreans workers worked together in a little capitalist enclave inside North Korea. The plant is financially beneficial to Pyongyang, so closing it down is economically puzzling, although may make strategic sense if the regime wants to send a credible signal of its resoluteness. However, sending South Korean workers home makes no strategic sense if Kim was planning warfare. As, for instance, the Iranian hostage crisis shows, foreign nationals serve better as hostages, so this could be an indication that Kim’s threats are empty rhetoric. Similarly, Pyongyang warned foreign diplomats on North Korean soil that the regime cannot guarantee their safety any more, hardly a good move if foreign nationals serve as bargaining chips as hostages in hot warfare.

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About politakos

Hello, my name is Akos. I am a Ph.D. student in the Political Economy and Government program at Harvard. I am originally from the world superpower called Hungary, which explains why I currently teach a sophomore tutorial on international security. More specifically, the tutorial is on game-theoretic models of war (econ 970-AL). The primary purpose of this blog is to share interesting links with my students that are connected to the material we are covering in class.
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